The latest thing skittering across my feeds is the idea of vaginal steaming. In this, a woman sits over a hot herbal infusion, letting the steam rise up and, supposedly, enter the vagina, traveling up to the uterus, and carrying the beneficial, relaxing, cleansing properties of those herbs into your ladybits.
On the surface, this sounds like a Good Idea- we use steam for all sorts of cleansing & soothing purposes all over our bodies. So steaming your vagina must be ok, right?
Thing is, the labia and vagina are really good at Keeping Things Out.
We talk about it all the time in relationship to birth- sitting in a bath after your water breaks is ok, because the water isn’t going to travel up your vagina, putting things in your vagina can introduce bacteria, which is why you should limit exams in labor, but just having the area uncovered doesn’t suddenly make things ‘unsterile’, cautions against douching because it mucks with your natural vaginal biome, and how it is difficult for things to accidentally go up the vagina, when the design is made for things to come out.
So how would the steam get up in there, anyhow? Even with the legs spread, the labia will act as a barrier (so, arguably, you’d have to sit there holding the labia open… kinda uncomfortable after a while?), and the vagina itself isn’t just an open-wide tube, even for women who have given birth previously. There’s folds and folds of tissue that only become open when something is actively moving that tissue aside. (Gently poke around sometime… you can feel the tissues moving out of the way. This is why doctors use speculums. So, I suppose you could use one of those to hold things open, but it that really going to be soothing and relaxing?)
So, sitting over a pot of herbal steam, you would get the labia, perenium and anus nice and warm, you might get the first bit of vagina steamy, but it would be really really hard for normally rising steam to make its way past the labia and deep into the vagina, let alone all the way up into your uterus.
It just doesn’t make any sense. Sitz baths, those are different because they are being applied to external, easily accessed tissues. But unless you’re doing something like forcing the steam up the vagina (bad idea!) the mechanics of it just don’t fly. It will increase blood flow to the genital area, which is not bad for relaxation in general, but if you’re not watching the temp of the steam you could end up with burns, which would oh so defeat the purpose.
The only thing designed to travel up the vagina to the uterus are sperm, and even after billions of years of perfecting their travel plans, most of them still die before getting anywhere- I don’t think steam is going to do any better.
If you really want your vagina to be relaxed, take a nice warm bath (you can even toss some of those herbs in there), and then have an orgasm or two. The muscle spasms, plus the release of fluid will help clean the vaginal tissue, and the oxytocin and endorphins will make you feel nice and floaty.